Authorities say 36-year-old Francisco Melendez jumped into the water to try to save a 14-year-old boy and 49-year-old man who had fallen into the ocean.
When paramedics arrived, Melendez had been pulled ashore by another good Samaritan, but he was unconscious and later died.
Melendez's wife says helping people was in his nature.
"He was always a generous person. He liked to help everybody. It doesn't surprise us what he did," said Olga Diaz. "He's a very friendly guy. He has lots of friends. He was always a good father to my kids and a good husband."
The other man and the teenager were treated and released from the hospital. Police say the two had been fishing in a restricted area.